The Theraplay Institute is committed to research

The Theraplay Institute is committed to supporting research in Theraplay. This includes Individual/Family Theraplay, Group Theraplay, and Whole Family Theraplay. We support research in multiple ways:

  • Providing Theraplay and MIM training to therapists involved in research projects.
  • Providing Theraplay and MIM supervision to therapists and onsite supervisors
  • Providing consultation in the development of research projects on Theraplay on in writing grant proposals

The Theraplay Institute is pleased to invite applications from Ph.D. students for a research scholarship. The scholarship is worth $1,500.00 and may be used for any research expenses that the student encounters. Research must be completed by August 1 of the year in which the funds are awarded. Funds will be dispersed upon completion of the project.

Publication of findings is expected. The project should involve the implementation of Theraplay and/or the MIM with a specific population of clients. Descriptive studies will not be considered for funding.

Students studying counseling, clinical, or education/school psychology or marriage and family counseling, or early intervention, or in doctoral clinical social work programs are eligible. Students work must be supervised by a graduate school professor with extensive knowledge or research methods. All projects must have IRB approval prior to implementation.

Students do not have to have prior Theraplay experience, but must be trained in clinical work with children, and must have some experience in counseling children and families. Theraplay training will be required if the student is awarded the grant at a reduced cost.



For more information about Theraplay research or to receive assistance with your own research project, please contact us at [email protected]

Congratulations to our 2019 Scholarship Recipient!

Congratulations to Nina Veronica Medyk who has been awarded the 2019 Theraplay Research Scholarship! Her dissertation project, tentatively titled “Examining the Effectiveness of Group Theraplay® on Enhancing Socio-Emotional Skills among Kindergarten Children.” will employ an experimental, randomized, control group, pretest-postest design. It will occur in elementary schools in Gilchrist County, Florida. The research will focus on evaluating if a 10-week group Theraplay® intervention has a positive effect on participants’: socio-emotional skills, within child protective factors, and in decreasing behavioral concerns, as measured by parent and teacher report of the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Clinical Form (DECA-C) (LeBuffe & Naglieri, 2003) and Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Socio-Emotional (ASQ: SE; Squires, Bricker, & Twombly, 2002).

Ms. Medyk holds a Master degree in clinical Social Work from Florida State University. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings with families and children of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Currently, she is entering her third year in the doctoral program in Counselor Education and Supervision. Ms. Medyk completed group Theraplay® training in May of 2018.

Our 2018 Scholarship Recipients!

The recipients of the TTI 2018 scholarship will be studying Theraplay’s efficacy in reducing anxiety in rural Appalachian mother-child dyads.

Katarina Krizova, MS, MFT is a Doctoral Candidate in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Virginia Tech. Originally from Slovakia, Katarina has a Masters Degree in Psychology from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic and a Masters Degree in Couple and Family Therapy from the University of Kentucky. Currently working towards being licensed, Katarina has experience providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families mostly of socioeconomically disadvantaged rural backgrounds. In her clinical work, Katarina specializes on improving child outcomes utilizing play therapy with particular focus on rebuilding parent-child attachment relationships. Katarina completed completed Level One Theraplay and Marschak Interaction Method training in the summer of 2014. She has also focused on gaining expertise in individual and family trauma and is currently working toward becoming a Certified Family Trauma Professional. Katarina’s doctoral research is built around systemic conceptualization of childhood anxiety with a goal of developing a specialized systemic treatment for child anxiety in the future. Further, because of her passion for supporting beginning therapists as the grow into well-rounded clinicians, her current research projects also focus on MFT training practices and professional development of beginning therapists with a special interest in international students.

Lauren Smithee, MS, MFT is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program at Virginia Tech, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is working towards clinical expertise in Theraplay and other forms of attachment-based family therapy with children and LGBTQ+ clientele. In particular, she has many hours of clinical experience with family therapy and intervening clinically with children and anxiety and their parents. She has experience with both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and has taken one research methods class, two classes on hierarchical regression, and two classes on general quantitative data analysis. She also has experience working on various research projects at Virginia Tech related to working with youth and parents. She also has experience with writing various manuscripts for publication and has presented her research at local, regional, and national conferences.

2017 Scholarship Winner

Kelley Munger is a doctoral student in the Early Intervention program at the University of Oregon. Kelley is developing specialty areas focused on perinatal and infant mental health, family-centered intervention, and caregiver disruptions in early childhood. She is currently involved in research examining trauma-informed intervention in early childhood settings as well as research examining mental health needs in rural China. Kelley also holds a master’s in counseling and a master’s degree in teaching and works with families and educators in a variety of contexts as a licensed professional counselor, trainer, and supervisor. She is pleased to collaborate with The Theraplay Institute to study social and emotional assessment in populations of young children at-risk for social and emotional delays.

Research projects in process are:

Coleman, Rand, PA and The Theraplay Institute (TTI), Multi-site study of children with oppositional defiant disorder.

Hong, Rana, Assessing outcomes of Theraplay based identity workshop in promoting a sense of self- identity among immigrant children of the Indian sub-continents. Loyola University of Chicago School of Social Work.

Lindaman, Sandra, TTI, Multinational case studies of Theraplay for children with Selective Mutism.

Makela, Jukka, Lassenius-Panula, Lotta, Salo, Saara, University of Helsinki Study of 20 Clinical Families.

Siu, Angela, Hong Kong, Group Theraplay.

Schieffer, Kay; Munger, Kelley; and Tucker, Catherine: Evaluation of Sunshine Circles in Head Start classrooms, round two. Grant Woods Education Agency, Iowa City, University of Oregon, TTI.

Schieffer, Kay: Implementation of Sunshine Circles and Theraplay with Young Exceptional Children. Grant Woods Education Agency, Iowa City.

Smith, Sondra; Swank, Jacqueline; and Tucker, Catherine: Study of group Theraplay application in short-term summer camp setting. University of Florida and Meridian Behavioral Health, TTI.

Want to get more involved? Contact us to learn how!

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